If there’s one thing we love sharing, it’s stories of health and personal triumph. But love stories take a close second. So any time we hear about a story that combines the two, we get downright giddy.
Caitlin Donovan is a friend of our Diets in Review staff, and when we caught wind of her unlikely engagement story, we knew we just had to share it. Her then-boyfriend, Dan, popped the question immediately following one of the biggest ‘mountaintop moments’ of her life: Her third marathon.
Caitlin and Dan have known each other their entire lives, literally. “We were sent to the same babysitter when we were the tiniest of tots,” she said. “And we’d been dating for about nine years when we started talking about getting married.”
The pair looked at rings together and came to a mutual understanding that they were going to tie the knot, but as weeks passed, talk of the subject subsided.
“In the midst of all this I was training for my third marathon,” said Caitlin. “When marathon Sunday rolls around, things are always exciting to begin with, so the last thing I expected at the end was an engagement ring!”
When the big day arrived, Caitlin’s parents and Dan’s family – who were also totally in the dark about the proposal – had all come down from Upstate New York to watch the race.
“I had a tough race, but somehow managed a personal best time, and was so excited to meet up with everyone afterwards,” she said. “Before heading back to our house in Brooklyn, we went out to grab a celebratory beer and I noticed that Dan was acting really strangely – not like his usual gregarious self.”
But rather than dig deeper to see if something was up, Caitlin admitted she just got annoyed, and was particularly angsty considering she’d just run 26.2 miles. Meanwhile, she had no idea he was acting up because he had a ring in his coat pocket all day.
“When we eventually got back to Brooklyn he popped the question on our stoop, which is a beloved place in our life, and I was, of course, overjoyed,” she said. “We had already planned to have a post-marathon party at our house, so we were expecting a hoard of friends at any moment. But in my excitement I decided to forego stretching or even showering, and the marathon party doubled as an impromptu engagement party. It was the best day!”
Caitlin and Dan got married on October 1, 2011 in a barn in the Catskills – fitting for this adventurous couple. And the pair planned the whole event in the midst of Caitlin training for yet another marathon.
Since then, Caitlin says that Dan has caught “the running bug,” too. He was an avid cyclist throughout the pair’s courtship, but in 2012 he decided to expand his fitness horizons to include running. “I am thrilled that he did. He recently signed up for his first half-marathon, so it seems like the habit is here to stay in our household.”
Any time Dan and Caitlin begin to chat about why they love to run, or to keep their bodies moving in any capacity, they think about their cat, Rex Harrison.
“When he caught his first mouse in our apartment, we got the sense that he was fulfilling a kind of primal destiny of his species. We feel similarly about ourselves and running,” she said. “Even though it can be a drag to lace up your sneakers and get out there, and even though there are runs when every single step is a struggle, there is something elementally satisfying about it. The human race exists because our ancestors were able to outrun predators and chase down prey. When we run, it connects us to the earliest humans. And even though we don’t think about that all the time, it’s pretty awesome.”